The city school district’s independent internal investigation into allegations against former facilities director Steven Raucci won’t be released in any form on advice of attorneys, district officials said Friday.
The decision reverses earlier statements that at least a summary would be made public as early as this week.
The district cited advice from legal counsel for its latest position. Patrick J. Fitzgerald III, attorney for the district, “strongly advised district officials against publicly sharing or discussing any portion of the completed report,” the school district said in a statement.
Fitzgerald has been busy defending the district against claims from seven individuals related to alleged acts committed by Raucci against school employees and others.
The filings in the lawsuits or attempted lawsuits have provided a steady stream of revelations into what district officials might have known or done regarding complaints about Raucci, who is being held in Schenectady County Jail on arson and terrorism charges.
“In light of pending claims and legal proceedings, I do not feel that it is appropriate for the school district to comment on the investigation,” Fitzgerald said in the statement. “I am asking my client not to share or comment on the report, any summary of the report or any portion of the report.”
“I am confident that at any hearing,” Fitzgerald added, “the evidence will demonstrate that the school district followed procedures and policies in place that are designed to protect employees from harassment and discrimination. The school district intends to vigorously defend the claims that have been brought against it and is confident that it will be successful in defending these claims.”
District officials said they would accept no questions about the statement.
School board President Maxine Brisport said Friday she could not comment. Former president Jeff Janiszewski did not return a call for comment.
Diane Herrmann, one of two board members swept onto the board in the wake of the scandal, said she will continue to press for the report’s release.
But, she said, transparency has to be balanced with advice of legal counsel.
“I wasn’t on the board when the report was authorized,” Herrmann said. “I’ve said all along it was a mistake.”
“There’s still an ongoing legal process. Anytime you have ongoing legal matters, this is what happens.”
The Board of Education in April hired Rachel Rissetto, human resource director for the Clinton Essex Warren Washington BOCES, to focus on the workplace allegations against Raucci at a fee of $100 per hour.
This included whether he sexually harassed and demeaned colleagues and if school officials knew about it but did not act.
Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney has alleged that some school district officials were “beholden” to Raucci.
The district had said it planned to release a summary of the investigation report as early as this week, but would not release the full report.
Raucci faces charges of arson and terrorism for allegedly planting explosive devices as part of a pattern of harassment against perceived enemies, including fellow district employees and CSEA union members. No one was ever physically injured in the alleged activities for which he was indicted by a Schenectady County grand jury.
Raucci remains at the Schenectady County Jail held without bail. He is awaiting a decision Thursday on his latest efforts to get bail.
The Daily Gazette filed a Freedom of Information Law request seeking the document, which was denied on the grounds that there would be an invasion of privacy if it were disclosed and that the document is classified as an “intra-agency report.”
School district attorney Shari Greenleaf said previously that the intention of the school board had always been to make the report as public as possible.
Still, the overall effort has been criticized by some, who questioned whether the investigation would turn up anything.
Attorney John Hoke, distinctly on the opposite side from the district as the attorney representing several of those trying to sue, has suggested in a court filing that he didn’t have much faith in the district’s internal investigation.
In the filing, related to a motion to dismiss the first suit to be filed, and one that predates Raucci’s February arrest, Hoke referred to the law enforcement investigation and the school district’s internal investigation.
Hoke refers to the school district’s investigation and district investigator in quotes. No quotes were used while referring to the criminal investigation.
Hoke did not return a call for comment Friday.